Bodies recovered of mental health patients almost 24 hours after drowning

Ben Davidson
September 20, 2018

The Marion County coroner has identified the two women who drowned in a Horry County sheriff's van on Tuesday night.

Thompson said he did not think the women were in restraints in the back of the van, noting that restraints are used for combative patients "and I understand they were not".

According to reporter Summer Dashe of WPDE TV-15 (ABC - Myrtle Beach/ Florence, S.C.), "many of the roads in (in the area) are closed because of flooding".

"It can be assumed he did" drive around a barricade, Sheriff Phillip Thompson said, adding that investigators want to know why the deputies made a decision to disregard the safety measure. Officials said the van was near the Little Pee Dee River, one of the bodies of water state officials are watching closely following the heavy rains of Florence. "We are fully cooperating with the State Law Enforcement Division to support their investigation of this event".

They had to suspend recovery efforts due to rising water.

The incident has spawned investigations by the State Law Enforcement Division and Highway Patrol.

The SCDOT added the driver of the vehicle had to go around a barrier to get stuck where they were. The two deaths will push Florence's toll across three states to almost 40 victims.

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, arrived in storm-ravaged North Carolina on Wednesday and helped volunteers at a church in the hard-hit coastal town of New Bern.

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Fox says that the van was driving down Highway 76 in Marion county, about a half-mile from the Little Pee Dee river, when the van was overtaken by water.

Cooper warned that the flooding is far from over and will get worse in places.

Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson confirmed the victims were female. "People need to know exactly how it happened".

Rescue teams were able to save the deputies from the van's roof, but they could not pull the vehicle from the water because it was too unsafe, according to the release.

"The two deputies attempted to extricate the persons being transported", the news release said. "Despite persistent and ongoing efforts, floodwater rose rapidly and the deputies were unable to open the doors", the statement reads.

Later, someone else reports, "We have the two deputies that are out of the van and are secure on the boat".

Investigators are in the early stages of conducting interviews and gathering evidence, SLED spokesman Thom Berry said.

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